MIAMI (CBSNewYork/AP) — His time has finally come.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen had previously stated he was considering starting Greenberg in the outfield and batting him leadoff for his one at-bat, but has since decided he will insert him in Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets at some point.
“There’s a lot of stuff out there,” Guillen said. “I thought it was good idea to lead off, but it is a little bigger deal than I thought. We’ll try to put him in the middle of the game to see that thing work.”
Greenberg has been in the national spotlight since the Marlins announced last week that they would sign the 31-year-old to a one-day contract so he could receive one at-bat after getting hit in the head in his Major League debut seven years ago.
Greenberg made his big league debut on July 9, 2005 with the Chicago Cubs and was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Marlins lefty Valerio De Los Santos in his only plate appearance. Greenberg suffered from vertigo after the incident and strived to make it back to the big-league level, but did not make it higher than the Double-A level in the Minors.
“I think it’s good for the kid,” Guillen said. “We decided to do it, and people have to respect that about what we’re going to do with the kid. I think it’s a positive. Obviously if we were in the pennant race or this game meant something, or if the Mets were in the pennant race or somebody was competing against the Mets in the pennant race and we have to beat them, then it’s different. I don’t think it’s going to kill anything to get the kid an at-bat.”
Mets manager Terry Collins supports the Marlins’ decision.
“I think it’s a wonderful story,” Collins said. “I know there’s some pros and cons about why does he get the one at-bat when a lot of other guys — well he did make it. He was good enough to get there at one time. Had he not got hit in the head who knows if he wouldn’t have been a star today. I think it’s a great story for this guy to come up with all that he’s been through to try to fight back, all of the things he’s had to endure. It’s going to be a great story. Unfortunately he’s going to have to face R.A. (Dickey).”
The Mets will send Cy Young Award candidate Dickey (20-6, 2.69 ERA) to the mound Tuesday for his final campaign for the prestigious award. Collins doesn’t anticipate Dickey grooving a pitch across the plate for Greenberg to hit.
“I don’t think that’s part of the deal,” Collins said.
Guillen understands the controversial nature of the Marlins’ decision.
“As a manager, as a person, it goes fifty-fifty,” Guillen said. “Some people will say I’m the greatest man to let this kid do it, some people will say I’m an idiot to make that happen.”
Guillen believes his team will have mixed feelings about Greenberg, but does not anticipate any issues.
“Hopefully the players out there don’t mind either,” Guillen said. “I know one guy will say ‘Yes,’ another will say ‘No,’ another will say ‘We don’t care.’ I expect the team to treat this kid well, respect him and enjoy the couple of minutes he’ll be with us. We have good guys. I’m not worried about that.”
The “one at-bat” theme was constructed by filmmaker Matt Liston, a Cubs fan who received over 20,000 signatures for an online petition for Greenberg to receive one at-bat. Since Greenberg was hit by a pitch in his only plate appearance, it does not count as an official Major League at-bat.
Guillen wants Greenberg to go up there swinging to make sure the at-bat is official.
“If the kid is going to get a walk, please swing the bat 3-0,” Guillen said. “I will let you swing the bat. Make sure you don’t walk. If he gets a hit by a pitch he’s got to pray to somebody else because two big league at-bats getting hit by a pitch, that’s very bad luck. He better change religions, because if you get hit by pitches in two at-bats, oh my gosh, you better go to church every two days.”
Although the Marlins are committed to inserting Greenberg into the lineup Tuesday, Guillen plans to keep the integrity of the game in mind.
“I’m not going to pinch-hit him for the pitcher just because,” Guillen said. “If I need a base hit to take the lead or something, he will be out and then I will figure out another inning. I’m going to manage my team to win the game. I’ll figure out how to play him. We shouldn’t have any problems.”
And if Greenberg’s at-bat is a success?
“I think if the kid gets a hit in the first at-bat, he might get another one,” Guillen said.
Mets fans, do you hope Greenberg gets a hit in his one at-bat against R.A. Dickey for the sake of the story? Let us know in the comments section below…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)